In the days leading up to the 153rd running of the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes (G1) on Saturday (June 5), usracing.com is profiling the contenders. The 1 ½-mile race at Belmont Park is the final leg of the Triple Crown.
By Richard Rosenblatt
Rombauer seemingly can do it all: The Preakness (G1) winner has victories on turf, on synthetic, and on dirt. He’s won at 1 mile, 1 1/8 miles and 1 3/16 miles. And he’ll be ridden by jockey No. 7 – Hall of Famer John Velazquez – in his eighth career start in the Belmont Stakes (G1) on his sixth different racetrack.
Clearly, trainer Michael McCarthy is happy to be back in his old stomping grounds in New York, where he was an assistant to Todd Pletcher before going out on his own in 2014. In Rombauer, he’ll be saddling one the most versatile racehorses anywhere.
“He’s a well put-together horse. He’s well balanced,” McCarthy said. “He’s not overly big. His mechanics are great and he’s a horse that when you lead him over there, he has his mind on running. I think his best weapon is what’s in between his ears.”
He may not be the favorite – Essential Quality is the 2-1 morning-line choice – but he ran like a champion in the Preakness on May 15, angling between horses and smoothly taking charge in the stretch for a 3 ½-length victory over Midnight Bourbon and Kentucky Derby (G1) first-place finisher Medina Spirit.
Rombauer won the El Camino Real Derby on synthetic on Feb. 13 and ran third in the Blue Grass (G2) behind Essential Quality and Highly Motivated at Keeneland. But owners John and Diane Fradkin decided to keep him out of the Derby and prepare for the Preakness despite McCarthy’s pitch to Run for the Roses.
The decision paid off as McCarthy won his first classic, and now looks to win his second. Flavien Prat, who was aboard for the Preakness, chose to ride Hot Rod Charlie in the Belmont, with Velazquez replacing him on Saturday.
“He’s had several different riders and it’s not something that’s bothered me,” McCarthy said. “It would have been nice to have Flavien back, but I feel we have a wonderful substitute. This has been Johnny’s home track for 25 plus years and he’s very familiar with this race and the way it plays out. I’m very happy with where I’m at.”
Post position: 3
Trainer: Michael McCarthy
Jockey: John Velazquez
Owners: John and Diane Fradkin
Career record: 7-3-1-1
Career earnings: $890,500
Best Equibase speed rating: 103
Pedigree: Twirling Candy-Cashmere, by Cowboy Cal
Running style: Mid-pack
Notes: The last horse to complete the Preakness-Belmont double was Afleet Alex in 2005 … Of course, Triple Crown winners American Pharoah in 2015 and Justify in 2018 swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont … On winning a race where he spent a big part of hi career, McCarthy said: “It would be fantastic. I have a lot of good memories here. To win any Triple Crown race is fantastic, the Belmont is really the ‘Test of the Champion’ and it would certainly be nice to hoist a trophy like that on Saturday.”
|1||Bourbonic||15-1||Kendrick Carmouche||Todd Pletcher|
|2||Essential Quality||2-1||Luis Saez||Brad Cox|
|3||Rombauer||3-1||John Velazquez||Michael McCarthy|
|4||Hot Rod Charlie||7-2||Flavien Pratt||WDoug O’Neill|
|5||France Go de Ina||30-1||Ricardo Santana Jr.||Hideyuki Mori|
|6||Known Agenda||6-1||Jose Ortiz||Todd Pletcher|
|7||Rock Your World||9-2||Joel Rosario||John W. Sadler|
|8||Overtook||20-1||Manny Franco||Todd Pletcher|
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.